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This set of notes focuses on the *restriction problem* in Fourier analysis. Introduced by Elias Stein in the 1970s, the restriction problem is a key model problem for understanding more general oscillatory integral operators, and which has turned out to be connected to many questions in geometric measure theory, harmonic analysis, combinatorics, number theory, and PDE. Only partial results on the problem are known, but these partial results have already proven to be very useful or influential in many applications.

We work in a Euclidean space . Recall that is the space of -power integrable functions , quotiented out by almost everywhere equivalence, with the usual modifications when . If then the Fourier transform will be defined in this course by the formula

From the dominated convergence theorem we see that is a continuous function; from the Riemann-Lebesgue lemma we see that it goes to zero at infinity. Thus lies in the space of continuous functions that go to zero at infinity, which is a subspace of . Indeed, from the triangle inequality it is obvious that

If , then Plancherel’s theorem tells us that we have the identity

Because of this, there is a unique way to extend the Fourier transform from to , in such a way that it becomes a unitary map from to itself. By abuse of notation we continue to denote this extension of the Fourier transform by . Strictly speaking, this extension is no longer defined in a pointwise sense by the formula (1) (indeed, the integral on the RHS ceases to be absolutely integrable once leaves ; we will return to the (surprisingly difficult) question of whether pointwise convergence continues to hold (at least in an almost everywhere sense) later in this course, when we discuss Carleson’s theorem. On the other hand, the formula (1) remains valid in the sense of distributions, and in practice most of the identities and inequalities one can show about the Fourier transform of “nice” functions (e.g., functions in , or in the Schwartz class , or test function class ) can be extended to functions in “rough” function spaces such as by standard limiting arguments.

By (2), (3), and the Riesz-Thorin interpolation theorem, we also obtain the Hausdorff-Young inequality

for all and , where is the dual exponent to , defined by the usual formula . (One can improve this inequality by a constant factor, with the optimal constant worked out by Beckner, but the focus in these notes will not be on optimal constants.) As a consequence, the Fourier transform can also be uniquely extended as a continuous linear map from . (The situation with is much worse; see below the fold.)

The *restriction problem* asks, for a given exponent and a subset of , whether it is possible to meaningfully restrict the Fourier transform of a function to the set . If the set has positive Lebesgue measure, then the answer is yes, since lies in and therefore has a meaningful restriction to even though functions in are only defined up to sets of measure zero. But what if has measure zero? If , then is continuous and therefore can be meaningfully restricted to any set . At the other extreme, if and is an arbitrary function in , then by Plancherel’s theorem, is also an arbitrary function in , and thus has no well-defined restriction to any set of measure zero.

It was observed by Stein (as reported in the Ph.D. thesis of Charlie Fefferman) that for certain measure zero subsets of , such as the sphere , one can obtain meaningful restrictions of the Fourier transforms of functions for certain between and , thus demonstrating that the Fourier transform of such functions retains more structure than a typical element of :

Theorem 1 (Preliminary restriction theorem)If and , then one has the estimatefor all Schwartz functions , where denotes surface measure on the sphere . In particular, the restriction can be meaningfully defined by continuous linear extension to an element of .

*Proof:* Fix . We expand out

From (1) and Fubini’s theorem, the right-hand side may be expanded as

where the inverse Fourier transform of the measure is defined by the formula

In other words, we have the identity

using the Hermitian inner product . Since the sphere have bounded measure, we have from the triangle inequality that

Also, from the method of stationary phase (as covered in the previous class 247A), or Bessel function asymptotics, we have the decay

for any (note that the bound already follows from (6) unless ). We remark that the exponent here can be seen geometrically from the following considerations. For , the phase on the sphere is stationary at the two antipodal points of the sphere, and constant on the tangent hyperplanes to the sphere at these points. The wavelength of this phase is proportional to , so the phase would be approximately stationary on a cap formed by intersecting the sphere with a neighbourhood of the tangent hyperplane to one of the stationary points. As the sphere is tangent to second order at these points, this cap will have diameter in the directions of the -dimensional tangent space, so the cap will have surface measure , which leads to the prediction (7). We combine (6), (7) into the unified estimate

where the “Japanese bracket” is defined as . Since lies in precisely when , we conclude that

Applying Young’s convolution inequality, we conclude (after some arithmetic) that

whenever , and the claim now follows from (5) and Hölder’s inequality.

Remark 2By using the Hardy-Littlewood-Sobolev inequality in place of Young’s convolution inequality, one can also establish this result for .

Motivated by this result, given any Radon measure on and any exponents , we use to denote the claim that the *restriction estimate*

for all Schwartz functions ; if is a -dimensional submanifold of (possibly with boundary), we write for where is the -dimensional surface measure on . Thus, for instance, we trivially always have , while Theorem 1 asserts that holds whenever . We will not give a comprehensive survey of restriction theory in these notes, but instead focus on some model results that showcase some of the basic techniques in the field. (I have a more detailed survey on this topic from 2003, but it is somewhat out of date.)

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This is a well-known problem in multilinear harmonic analysis; it is fascinating to me because it lies barely beyond the reach of the best technology we have for these problems (namely, multiscale time-frequency analysis), and because the most recent developments in quadratic Fourier analysis seem likely to shed some light on this problem.

Recall that the Hilbert transform is defined on test functions (up to irrelevant constants) as

where the integral is evaluated in the principal value sense (removing the region to ensure integrability, and then taking the limit as .)

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